In 2019, four Canadian wheelchair athletes have been named to the National High Performance Program. Rob Shaw, Thomas Venos, Gary Luker and Mitch McIntyre will be members of the elite program for the upcoming year.
The goal of the National High Performance Program is to help develop wheelchair athletes at the elite level while also establishing Canada as a world leading wheelchair tennis nation. The players nominated are on track to meet one of Tennis Canada’s performance and podium objectives, which include Paralympic and ParapanAm podium results, rankings in the Top 16 and targeted World Team Cup results.
Athletes in the program receive a number of benefits and support including assistance from the National Coach, sport science and sport medicine personnel, funding assistance, training camps, access to Sport Canada carding and privileges at the National Tennis Centre and Regional Training centres.
“We are proud to nominate these four outstanding players to the team in 2019. They have all worked incredibly hard to develop their game and their efforts are clearly paying off,” said National Coach Kai Schrameyer. “These athletes represent their country with pride and are great role models for the sport of wheelchair tennis. We are looking forward to supporting them and watching them pursue their goals throughout their season.”
Top Canadian quad player Rob Shaw (North Bay, ON) had a stellar 2018 season, continuing his ascent in the world rankings. Rob finished the season at a career high no. 10, putting him in a great position for the upcoming qualifying season for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. One of the highlights of the year was his first ever ITF 1 Series final at the Birmingham Classic in August.
Shaw was also a member of the Canadian squad that finished in sixth place at the 2018 Word Team Cup (WTC). Gary Luker and Mitch McIntyre joined their compatriot in the competition, helping the team achieve direct qualification into this year’s WTC, which is set to take place in Israel in May.
At only 19 years of age, Thomas Venos is the young gun of the group. In 2018, he took home the doubles title at the Birmingham Nationals and won two other doubles titles in Alabama and Chicago.
The location of the 2019 and 2020 Birmingham Nationals was also recently revealed by Tennis Canada. The event, generously supported by the Birmingham family, will be moving back to Quebec and will be hosted by Parasport Quebec. In fact, IGA Stadium in Montreal will play host to one of the biggest and most important wheelchair tennis events in Canada. This year, the competition will take place from October 31 to November 2 as the best in Canadian wheelchair tennis will face off for a chance to take home the National title.
*Feature photo: Mara Chaplin